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6
MINUTE READ TIME
Published
February 20, 2024
|
Ben Leonard
|
For Your Business

Charting Success: Expert Tips for Effective Product Development and Amazon Positioning

Charting Success: Expert Tips for Effective Product Development and Amazon Positioning

Table of Contents

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First, a bit of background. I built, scaled, and then sold a fitness brand called Beast Gear. When Beast Gear was acquired, the business was generating $6M per year in revenue. Selling in the UK and Europe.

Let me begin with a story that might send a shiver down your spine…

Just imagine - you've launched a successful product, it's flying off the virtual shelves, and then bam! You're hit with a patent violation claim. Scary, right?

This is exactly what happened to me with my product, Beast Grips. It was a classic David vs. Goliath scenario, where I found myself up against a huge organization accusing me of infringement…long story short - their claims were baloney and after a legal battle I emerged victorious.

What has this got to do with Amazon positioning?

Well the bad guys tried to sue me because my product was a) better and b) positioned better in the market. They were scared.

I want you to develop killer products that are positioned way ahead of the competition. I want your competitors to be so riled up that they want to sue you…

Weights

When you develop killer products that blow the competition away in terms of both quality and brand positioning - like I did with Beast Grips - your competitors will be so riled up, they’ll want to sue you.

Related: 6 Tips for Launching and Scaling Your Amazon DTC Business

The A to Z of Ecommerce Product Development

Now, let's talk about getting your product off the ground. You've got a great idea, but what next? Here are the four product development strategies you can take:

  • Right Off the Shelf: Grab an existing product, maybe tweak it a bit, and there you go. It's straightforward and can be a smart move if the market's already buzzing.
  • A New Design: Got a fresh idea? Fantastic! Time to get those 3D models ready and find a manufacturer who can turn your vision into reality.
  • A Franken-Product: This is where you play mix and match with existing products to create something unique. It's like being a DJ, but for products!
  • A Brand New Invention: The road less traveled, but if you strike gold, you'll be rewriting the rulebook.

Let’s look at each of these below. Side note, I go deeper in my book ‘Quit Stalling and Build Your Brand’ - here.

Off The Shelf

Taking an existing product off the shelf (with minor tweaks or rebranding) is certainly easier than creating something new and unique. And if you know the market is already strong, scaling may be more feasible.

The most successful products operate across multiple channels and countries. Consider scuba diving. Scuba gear can be sold through virtually any channel and in almost any geography. People scuba dive in the Mediterranean, Hawaii, and the Caribbean, as well as lakes far inland and in the Arctic.

For example, umbrellas are an extreme example of a commodity product. Regardless of where they live, the majority of people need them. Umbrellas have the added benefit of being frequently left behind, which benefits your returning customer base. 

BUT, don’t try to launch commodity products just because you think “Oh yeah, these are everywhere that means there is a market and I just need a tiny percentage of it.” Please do not try to start an umbrella brand! 

You get the point—products that already exist, sell well, and are widely available can be a good place to start looking for ideas because the demand is known. In addition, sourcing tools like ScanUnlimited (for wholesalers) and WallySmarter (for Walmart sellers) prove invaluable in uncovering lucrative products through the analysis of key metrics like sales volume, keyword search volume, and pricing.

Leveraging these tools allows you to pinpoint products with a favorable combination of high demand and low competition. For smarter business decisions, supplement these tools with data analytics platforms like ManageByStats and D8aDriven to enable you to monitor your competitors’ sales patterns, pricing approaches, and marketing strategies, providing an in-depth understanding of the market landscape.

Keep in mind that if you take something off the shelf and simply rebrand it, your Amazon positioning will be especially important (more on that in a bit).

PRO TIP

A New Design

Suppose you're creating a stroller accessory, such as a special cup holder. Stroller cup holders already exist, but your design is unique. In this case, you'll need a new mold for your design. This means you'll need to make a 3D drawing of it. If you can do it yourself, that's great!

If not, you'll need to create some rough sketches and share them with a 3D graphic or product designer. You can easily find these people on freelancer gig economy websites such as Upwork or Fiverr. They can assist you in creating a 3D render, which your manufacturer will require to create the mold. It will also give you a better idea of what your product will look like.

Some more complex products go beyond basic "molding." Take my new baby carrier, which is still in product development. This is a very complex and technical product. I'm working with a top product designer to create extremely detailed "Tech Packs." These are fancy documents that explain every detail, right down to the last stitch, so that the manufacturer can perfectly replicate the design. This is especially important for a product where safety is a priority.

A Frankenstein Product

You don’t have to pay for custom molds or expensive tooling.  I call this the Franken-Product method…like Frankenstein’s monster but…less scary.

Frankenstein

My first product was a jump rope called the Beast Rope. It kickstarted my brand Beast Gear.

After carefully selecting a manufacturing partner, I started developing the Beast Rope by testing their existing products. I took the best parts from different samples, refining the design to create a superior and unique product. 

It was a collaborative ecommerce product development process, discussing and tweaking every detail to ensure it met my vision. I tested each product myself, with my friends and with partner athletes. And I said – let’s take this part from here, that part from there, make this part longer…you get the idea.

The Beast Rope series of jump ropes were the culmination of the Franken-Product method!

So, I ended up with a unique and superior product but without spending huge amounts of money. And then, I agreed to an exclusivity deal with my manufacturer so no one could rip me off. That is how I crushed the competition.

Quality, on a budget.

A Brand New Invention

This is the most unusual product development strategy because most entrepreneurs are wary of creating totally new products. On the one hand, there is no genuine market yet, and it is impossible to predict whether your idea will even be understood at its most basic level. On the other hand, if you hit it out of the park and people understand it, you could potentially alter the world. It's a huge gamble. And, as with other gambles, frequent failure is expected. 

More to the point, 99% of new items already exist in some form, and true quantum jumps in product creation are extremely unusual. Even a game-changing technology, such as the car, was essentially a combination of two existing products: the horse-drawn carriage and the combustion engine. Or the fridge. The idea of storing food in a cool environment to avoid it from spoiling was ancient. We had already stored food in stone rooms, underground, or in ice. But what about utilizing energy and thermostats to manage temperature and keep food fresher for longer? Bingo. 

Modern examples are not that different: electric vehicles mix rechargeable batteries with cars. iPhones combined MP3 players and cell phones. Yes, consumers needed to learn how to "refuel" their electric vehicles, but they already knew how to drive them. Early iPhone users had to master a new user interface (UI), but the fundamentals were already familiar.

Recently, paint companies began selling gallon cans with a lid/spout combo. Previously, pouring paint from the can needed not only a screwdriver to pry the lid open, but it could also be messy and wasteful. Now, just unscrew a tiny lid attachment, flip it over, and screw it back in to create a small pour spout. It's genius. And all it did was merge two well-known goods to address a common need. Learning how to use the product is as simple as following the three-step picture on the side of the can. 

So, unless you are actually developing something new, your product will most likely fall into one of the first three categories.

Related: 5 Top Strategies for a Winning Amazon Product Launch

Amazon Positioning: Make Your Product The Star

Once you've got your product, how do you make sure it shines brighter than the rest? That's where Amazon positioning comes in. It's all about finding that sweet spot where your product not only meets a need but also stands out from the crowd.

  1. Design: Maybe your product has a unique look or an ergonomic design that sets it apart. Your product isn't just different – it's a conversation starter, a head-turner. It's not just about being different; it's about being unapologetically, unmistakably you
  2. Function: Here's where you really shake things up. Perhaps it lasts longer, performs better, or has a special feature that others don’t. When they go right, you're already three steps to the left, leading the pack with innovation
  3. Price: Now, let's talk about money. Price can be a game-changer. Maybe yours is a premium option, or perhaps it offers incredible value for money.

Don't just think outside the box – think like there is no box. What makes your product not just different, but better?

Side note - I teach the finer details of Amazon product development and positioning inside Product Empire.

Competing with Existing Products: The Art of Differentiation

So, how do you hold your own against established products? Here's the secret sauce:

  • Build Better: Improve on what's already there. Whether it's the quality, design, or functionality, find your edge.

    Take my journey with the Beast Rope, for instance. It was a hit, but I didn't stop there. I introduced the Beast Rope Pro, Elite, and Fire. Each iteration wasn't just "better" but distinct. The Pro was an upgrade, sure, but the Elite and Fire? They offered variations in weight, speed, and feel. This was my way of ensuring I had something for everyone. It's like having an arsenal - each rope tailored for different workouts.

    Here's a pro tip: To really gauge how your brand stacks up against the competition, lay out a list of your product's features, then pit them against your rivals’. This is how you'll spot your unique edge. Moreover, consider leveraging SellerTools to maximize the optimization of your listings. This solution provides access to competitors’ keyword lists, automated functionalities, and a product manager, empowering you to efficiently optimize and oversee your listings with effectiveness and ease. 
  • Position Better: Understand your audience like the back of your hand. Show them you know what they need – sometimes even before they do. This is not simple. It requires hard work to deeply understand your target audience. This is the difference between selling ‘generic stuff’ and true brand building.
  • Differentiate Better: Stand out. Be it through design, innovation, or just being bold, make sure your product is the one that catches the eye.
Related: Marketing Funnel: An Introduction for Beginners

Our eyes lead the way - so make sure your product stands out at first glance. That’s why Beast Grips weren’t just another set of grips; they were visually distinctive, setting them apart from competitors.

Remember, it's not just about what you make; it's about the story you tell. We might be small-scale entrepreneurs, but we have powerful narratives. Take Beast Gear - I put my story at the forefront, and it resonated with people. That’s the beauty of being the underdog; you have agility on your side.

Jump rope
Making myself the face of the brand was a key point of differentiation.
NEW! Download the free How to Rank Organically on Amazon white paper.
Free Download

The Journey to Ecommerce Success

Developing and positioning your products is no small feat. It's a mix of creativity, strategy, a bit of boldness, and data-backed insights from AI-driven tools. Remember, it's not just about bringing a product to life; it's about creating something that resonates with your audience and stands the test of market competition.

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